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WTBE Art Reception with Joan Cohen Jones

Sunday, February 25, 2024 16 Adar I 5784

11:00 AM - 12:30 PMAnn Arbor JCC

Please join us at the Amster Gallery on February 25 where you will have an opportunity to meet Joan and explore her work (and enjoy refreshments provided by WTBE). You can sign up to attend by contacting Annette Fisch before February 11.

You're invited to join WTBE and artist Joan Cohen Jones at the JCC's Amster Gallery (2935 Birch Hollow Drive) on February 25 for a private visit to an exhibit showcasing Joan’s beautiful watercolor landscapes.

(There is also a general reception on February 29, 6-8 p.m.)

“Art has always been a part of my life,” says Joan. Encouraged by her mother — herself “a terrific amateur artist” — Joan actively created art from her childhood to her mid-teens. She jokes that her creativity “peaked” when, in kindergarten, she used her elbows to paint with finger paints to create prints that looked remarkably like morning glories. Her painting received so much attention that the school principal asked Joan to describe her “process!” Joan’s interest in art continued throughout her childhood and adolescence.

Sometime in high school, however, academics took priority, and Joan stopped creating art. She earned a B.A. in mathematics from Herbert Lehman College in New York, then moved from her native Bronx to Atlanta to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Georgia State University. While in Atlanta, Joan became active in the Sephardic synagogue there, explaining that ”I’m not Sephardic, but they had a very nice group of adult singles…”

From Georgia, Joan went to the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire for a stint as an assistant professor. Then, in the late 1990s, she came to the Ann Arbor/Ypsi area to become a professor of mathematics at Eastern Michigan University, where she remained until her recent retirement. Always committed to her Judaism, Joan joined TBE virtually upon her arrival, and she has been an active member ever since.

Even though she wasn’t creating art throughout most of her academic career, Joan found a way to incorporate her two loves, mathematics and art. She taught courses and wrote books on the numerous connections between art and mathematics, and artistic examples abound in her scholarly publications. As a professor, she researched and wrote about the art of non-European cultures and how they used informal mathematics to decorate buildings and textiles. Joan hoped that by recognizing these connections, her students (future teachers) would learn to appreciate the everyday applications of mathematics that enhanced their lives.

Joan is recently retired from academia, and has returned to actively creating art. As she was nearing retirement, she decided to take a watercolor course, based on the recommendation of a childhood friend. That was 10 years ago. Since that time, Joan has worked tirelessly to master the art of watercolor through workshops with nationally and internationally recognized artists as well as excellent local teachers.

Joan describes herself as a traditional watercolorist, merging exquisite detail with panoramic scenes that employ both soft and vivid colors. She is a perfectionist and applies the same diligence and focus to her watercolor that she did to her academic pursuits. While she can always find something that “could be improved,” her work has been very well received, exhibited in numerous venues, and collected by watercolor enthusiasts from Maine to California. The winterscape shown here, at once realistic and ethereal, highlights Joan's artistry.

Joan notes that the return to doing art is "a natural progression" for her. She continues to develop her skills and, over the past few years, has incorporated pen and wash, a combination of black ink and watercolor, into some of her creations. Joan travels to Maine each summer for inspiration because she says there are more artists there, per square mile, than anywhere else.

Currently, Joan is teaching a course for Elderwise titled “Art and Mathematics: A Divine Collaboration,” which she also did for Faculty Women last fall. And she is the proud “parent” of her 7-year-old dog, Arlo, a Miniature Schnauzer.

But if you can't make it on February 25, you'll still have a chance to see Joan's work, as the exhibit runs from February 6 until March 15, with a general reception on February 29.

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Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784